National Partnership for Women & Families

Unprecedented Consumer Principles Can Guide Development of 'Medical Home' Model of Care

Washington, D.C. — March 30, 2009 —

With Congress and the Obama Administration moving quickly to craft health care reforms, a broad coalition of more than 25 of the nation’s leading consumer, labor and health care advocacy groups today unveiled a set of principles designed to help health care providers, lawmakers, employers, and health plans consider consumer interests as they develop delivery system reforms such as the “medical home." The nine recommendations are designed to help foster patient- and family-centered care in emerging models of primary care.

In 2007, physician groups offered "medical home" recommendations from the perspective of providers. Both sets of guidelines call for the delivery of safe, quality care, but the consumer principles released today for the first time allow for evaluation of the medical home concept from a patient perspective. Formulated with extensive input from consumer and patient advocates around the country, these consensus principles set a benchmark for policy makers working to promote the medical home in federal and state legislation, for consumer advocates assessing new proposals to reform care delivery, and for providers implementing the medical home model of care.

"These new consumer principles will be invaluable in helping shape new models of delivering primary care that will emphasize high quality, comprehensive and well-coordinated care; enhance patient access to care; and engage patients and their caregivers in managing their health and making good decisions about their care," said National Partnership for Women & Families President Debra L. Ness. "To be truly ‘patient-centered,' these new models of delivering primary care must address the issues that matter most to patients and their families."

Sometimes referred to as a "patient-centered medical home," the medical home is a medical office, health center or clinic that assigns a team of health professionals to offer personalized, coordinated, comprehensive primary health care to each patient. At its best, this approach will improve patients’ access to primary and preventive care, coordinate patients’ care across different providers and settings, and help patients and their caregivers manage health conditions and make the best possible decisions about their treatment. At least 13 state Medicaid programs are offering medical homes to enrollees. Several major employers and private insurers are initiating medical home pilots, and the Medicare program is launching demonstration projects in at least eight states this year.

"AARP strongly supports these consumer principles, which can help ensure that the medical home model of care is implemented in ways that will coordinate and improve care for the vulnerable older people who too often fall through the cracks in our health care system today," said John Rother, AARP Executive Vice President, Policy and Strategy. "If policy makers use these principles as they establish medical homes, we will move closer to our goal of providing the patient-centered care the nation needs and deserves."

The nine consumer principles are:

  1. In a patient-centered medical home, an interdisciplinary team guides care in a continuous, accessible, comprehensive and coordinated manner.

  2. The patient-centered medical home takes responsibility for coordinating its patients’ health care across care settings and services over time, in consultation and collaboration with the patient and family.

  3. The patient has ready access to care

  4. The patient-centered medical home “knows” its patients and provides care that is whole person oriented and consistent with patients’ unique needs and preferences.

  5. Patients and clinicians are partners in making treatment decisions.

  6. Open communication between patients and the care team is encouraged and supported.

  7. Patients and their caregivers are supported in managing the patient’s health.

  8. The patient-centered medical home fosters an environment of trust and respect.

  9. The patient-centered medical home provides care that is safe, timely, effective, efficient, equitable, patient-centered and family-focused.

Each is addressed in more detail in the document, available online along with a consumer toolkit at www.nationalpartnership.org/medicalhome

"For people with diabetes and its many complications, trying to navigate the health care system can be extremely difficult," said Gina Gavlak, RN, BSN, Vice Chair Advocacy, American Diabetes Association. "The system needs to change to a patient-centered model that involves a comprehensive team approach focused on how diabetes affects that individual. We urge policy makers to consider these recommendations as they move forward with health care reform.  People with diabetes and their families are counting on it."

"As we reform our health care system, it is necessary to develop models for change that provide meaningful access to quality health care," commented Janet Murguía, President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR). "If crafted carefully, medical homes have the potential to deeply improve coordination of health care for Americans, bringing equity to a system that traditionally leaves behind communities of color."

The new consumer principles are being distributed to lawmakers at the state and federal levels.

Contact

Cindy Romero (202) 986-2600 cromero@nationalpartnership.org

The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at www.NationalPartnership.org.

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